Japan Update 2017: what role will Japan play in a changing global system?

Policymakers, industry leaders and Japan experts gathered at ANU last week for the 2017 Japan Update. Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop delivered the keynote address at the conference hosted by the Australia-Japan Research Centre and ANU College of Asia & the Pacific under the theme ‘seeking new directions’.

The program featured discussions on a wide range of social, political and economic issues, including the relationship between Australia and Japan, the Japanese economy and innovation.

The Japan in a new global system panel, chaired by Professor Peter Drysdale, addressed regional security concerns from a Japanese perspective since the advent of the Trump presidency in the US.

On recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, AJRC Visting Fellow Dr Amy King spoke about the obstacles to resolving tensions.

“A risk for Japan is that it doesn’t have the relationship with China in place to manage or coordinate a joint response to the North Korea issue,” she said.

“Partly that is because for Japanese defence policy and threat perceptions, North Korea and China are the two key issues, and Japanese increases in defence spending and shifts in defence posture in response to the North Korea threat have also led to considerable criticism from China, ” she added.

Discussing the potential for regional economic partnerships, the panel, including Professor Fumiaki Kubo of the University of Tokyo and Dr Nobuhiro Aizawa of Kyushu University, agreed it is in Japan’s interest to foster Chinese regional engagement projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative following the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“There’s a long way to go before we see what Japan’s approach will look like and the extent of Japan-China economic cooperation,” said Dr King.

“We’re in an interesting phase now of waiting to see where the US-Japan alliance will go and principally what the US role in Asia will become.”

Dr Amy King is a Senior Lecturer in the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and a Visting Fellow at the Australia-Japan Research Centre.

Updated:  23 June 2017/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Services Team